Tick tick tick…
The countdown to year end is here. Tax planning, strategic investments and divestitures, looking ahead to a year where “the new normal” is just “the normal” and when the labour and supply chain issues have never been more real.
First – you think.
As every year, you sit down, you look back, you look ahead, and you plan. You revisit what you thought you might achieve, what you can grind out before the year ends and shake your head at what you thought was mission critical, and then realized was not. You might have a chat with your accountant, your senior advisors, that bright young kid in the neighborhood when they are home from university. You may take a trip to your local bank for a read on financing opportunities, attend a conference or two, and run the figures. First in your head, then on a paper, then maybe even a spreadsheet, just to see how it would look in a great year, a usual year, a tough year.
And then – you decide.
You don’t talk too much about your decision at the beginning. You turn it over in your mind, you start down the path of actual solutions maybe researching online to start with, maybe listening deeply when you hear of someone who encountered the same business opportunity, maybe even finding that podcast from the supplier. You don’t talk too much about it, but in your head and your heart you know you have decided.
And then – you take action.
You start to turn your idea into reality and put your investment timeline into place – a time that is both exhausting and exhilarating.
This next stage in my view is one of the most critical and yet least considered in business decision making. I call it change management, you might call it delivery, or implementation, or putting it to use. Change management sounds pretty fancy in some ways. Like something someone brings back from university that doesn’t have much use in the practical world. But I love thinking about it because until something changes, the benefits of that investment, that change you’ve made in the business never really takes hold.
In your world change management looks like…
…that new piece of equipment that arrives in the yard that you’re not quite sure how to even turn on, but feel incredibly awkward when you realize that.
…that new download of software you couldn’t wait to get, that now doesn’t seem to show the same things as it did on the demo.
…the new employee that spends two weeks mostly having coffee and trying to look busy because they don’t quite know what their job is now that they’ve hit the job site.
Downtime, errors, underutilized resources, redundant processes and technology – just a few of the hard costs of ineffective change management.
Okay, so what, and now what?
There is a great opportunity to take change management along for the ride as you consider your strategies and priorities for the upcoming year. To start with it often just sounds like more questions, rather than more solutions. To quote Elon Musk, “One of the really tough things is figuring out what questions to ask. Once you figure out the question, then the answer is relatively easy.”
Here are some questions to start you off:
As you think…
1. What business problem is my highest priority for the upcoming year?
2. Is that because it is the most urgent, or because it is the most important?
3. What would “my most amazing year ever” look like for next year?
And as you decide…
1. How can I make sure I have enough alternatives to choose from in making this decision, rather than just jumping to the first one that comes to mind?
2. What is the impact in not making a decision at all?
3. What might be the “after-decision” costs to my people, my current processes and workflow, and the related technology that supports everything around this decision, and how could I minimize downtime, errors and duplicate costs that might occur?
And as you take action…
1. Is there a better or worse time for the business to introduce this new piece and how should I consider timing?
2. Is there anything about preparing for this change that I could review, consider, or introduce to my team to make the change flow more smoothly?
3. I see this change as exciting, and necessary for the business – how can I support my team in feeling this same way about the change?
4. How will I determine early on if the change is creating the revenue increase or cost-saving benefits that I anticipated?
5. If – just if – I have to back out of this decision, what does that look like and how would that impact the business, and my team?
Sometimes, it is really helpful to have a sounding board, a thought partner, someone to think out loud with that helps you think through these and other questions. That’s where a team like Osborne Interim Management really comes in. Imagine having just one day with someone to challenge you on your plans for the upcoming year. To ask over and over “did you think about…”, “how will you approach…”, and “what if…”. An outside-in view, just for those few hours of investment, can help you be an even more impactful leader, more ready for the challenges and opportunities of the new year, and more confident about the next exciting chapter in your business journey.
Make this the year you invest in yourself, your leadership, your thinking – perhaps for just you, or perhaps for your leadership team. And I will close with this question – “Why not?”